Serving English Language Learners

OCTAE is proud that our CTE, adult education, and community college programs serve many English language learners and help them achieve academic, career, and community integration success. We also recognize the important role that improving English proficiency plays in immigrant and refugee families, contributing to the academic and career success of two or more generations. We encourage all of our providers to make use of these new tools and guidance.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance reminding states, school districts, and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.

In addition to the guidance, the Departments also released additional tools and resources to help schools in serving English learner students and parents with limited English proficiency:

*   A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools’ obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students can participate meaningfully and equally in school.

*   A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools’ obligations under federal law to communicate information to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand.

*   A toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students, prepared by the Education Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition. This is the first chapter in a series of chapters to help state education agencies and school districts meet their obligations to English learner students.

This is the first time that a single piece of guidance has addressed the array of federal laws that govern schools’ obligations to English learners. The guidance recognizes the recent milestone 40th anniversaries of Lau v. Nichols and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), as well as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOA, similar to Lau, requires public schools to take appropriate action to help English learner students overcome language barriers and ensure their ability to participate equally in school.

The guidance explains schools’ obligations to:

*   identify English learner students in a timely, valid and reliable manner;

*   offer all English learner students an educationally sound language assistance program;

*   provide qualified staff and sufficient resources for instructing English learner students;

*   ensure English learner students have equitable access to school programs and activities

*   avoid unnecessary segregation of English learner students from other students;

*   monitor students’ progress in learning English and doing grade-level classwork;

*   remedy any academic deficits English learner students incurred while in a language assistance program;

*   move students out of language assistance programs when they are proficient in English and monitor those students to ensure they were not prematurely removed;

*   evaluate the effectiveness of English learner programs; and

*   provide limited English proficient parents with information about school programs, services, and activities in a language they understand.

Immigrant Integration Project: Call for Applications

UPDATE: Preliminary applications are due December 20! Here is a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the process and eligibility criteria.

The preliminary application process for the Networks for Integrating New Americans project has begun! This is a national initiative to advance immigrant integration through technical assistance. Learn more in the project’s fact sheet.

The project will select up to five forward-thinking community networks (also coalitions or initiatives) to receive technical assistance to address the linguistic, civic, and economic needs of immigrant adults. Organizational networks are key to this project because when organizations in both immigrant and receiving communities collaborate on immigrant integration, both communities contribute unique strengths and better address common needs.

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Get the Facts on Adult English Language Programs

Did you know adult English language learners nationally make up 40 percent of the adult education population served? Which states have the highest percentage of English as a second language (ESL) students? Did you know the majority of adult ESL students are between 25 and 44 years old? See a new fact sheet providing details of the student demographics in adult ESL programs, the progress they are making, and the allocations that support their education.

Get more updates on the activities funded by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) national leadership funds here.

Pre-solicitation for Improving Adult English Language Instruction

UPDATE: The PWS has been released. Proposals are due June 14, 2013. Questions are due May 21, 2013 noon EST. Please find all materials on the FedBizOpps site by searching for the solicitation number ED-VAE-13-R-0025.

OVAE is seeking a company to execute a new initiative designed to contribute to the Department’s ongoing efforts toward building teacher effectiveness by supporting state-based teacher professional development and training efforts through the provision of high quality, on-demand, evidence-based instructional support for teachers of adult learners who are learning English. Find all materials on the FedBizOpps site by searching for the solicitation number ED-VAE-13-R-0025. Sign up at the site to stay informed.

This new three-year initiative will build on, and extend, OVAE’s previous investments to improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of teachers working with adult ELLs by providing collaborative, evidence-based, and technology-enhanced professional development opportunities.

It is anticipated that an unrestricted full and open competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) will be available on May 13, 2013. All responsible sources may submit a proposal which the agency shall consider. A contract with a base year plus two, twelve- month option years is anticipated. The award date for the procurement is planned to occur no later than August 28, 2013.

USCIS Grant Opportunity for Adult ESL and Civics

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services published a new grant opportunity for up to $250,000 over a two year performance period. Eligible organizations include non-profit or public organizations that have experience providing ESL and citizenship instruction to adults. More information about the program can be found at: www.uscis.gov/grants.

USCIS is hosting a stakeholder engagement call on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 from 2:00pm to 3:30pm (Eastern) regarding the Fiscal Year 2013 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program.  The purpose of this meeting is to collect questions and make clarifications, where possible, regarding the grant program application requirements and application process.

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In the TESOL Spotlight: Adult English Language Learners

The adult English language learner population is the largest sub-population of adult education students, accounting for over 40% of students in the federally-funded adult education system are in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. With the announcement of the Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy last year for youth up to age 30 and the growing momentum on comprehensive immigration reform, the issue of English language proficiency among adult immigrants has entered the national conversation. Adult language learning issues also featured prominently at at last week’s Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) annual conference in Dallas, TX. This international conference draws over 6,000 educators, dedicated to the teaching of English across the lifespan. For over a decade, TESOL has been a critical professional network partner for OVAE, assisting in information dissemination and implementation support for educators.

While at the conference, OVAE’s Dr. Debra Suarez co-presented at the U.S. Department of Education policy update session along with the Office of English Language Acquisition, represented by Dr. Joanne Urrutia; and the Office of Early Learning, represented by Mr. Steven Hicks. This session demonstrated the Department’s commitment to collaborate across Offices and initiatives to address the needs of English language learners of all ages, to more fully engage immigrant parents, and to support families’ language learning efforts.

Dr. Suarez also presented at “National and State Initiatives in Adult ESL,” a session that showcased how state adult education systems are strengthening their professional development efforts to improve instructional quality, in part by integrating OVAE-funded resources such as those offered through OVAE’s ELL-U project. Co-presenting with Suarez were Karen Brown, Director for Professional Development and Instructional Support at North Carolina Community College System, North Carolina; Kimberly Johnson, Director of the Adult Basic Education Teaching and Learning Advancement System (ATLAS) Center at Hamline University, Minnesota; and Donna Kinerney, Dean for Instruction for Adult ESOL & Literacy Programs at Montgomery College, Maryland.

Dr. Suarez attended other events at the conference, including the Adult Education Special Interest Group and sessions devoted to adult English learning. Hot topics at the conference included for adult ESL educators included strengthening the academic readiness for adult English language learners, emergent literacy, the perceived shift toward more youth in the adult ESL population, leveraging resources and partnerships, and focusing on a research agenda specifically for adult ESL students.